Magazine article Screen International

'London Road': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'London Road': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Rufus Norris. UK, 2015, 92 mins.

London Road is an impressively-mounted adaptation of a musical first staged by the UK's National Theatre (NT) which artfully merges 'verbatim theatre' into staccato-song to convey the reactions of Ipswich residents to the fact that a serial killer of prostitutes was living in their midst in late 2006.

Director Rufus Norris (Broken) - also the NT's artistic director - brings a sense of excitement to this dazzling, if niche, entertainment. London Road is a film which may prove to be influential in terms of how a musical is broken down, interpreted and re-assembled for the big screen (the stage play had 11 actors playing 70 parts; this has a considerably wider vision). The subject matter is thought-provoking, although the performance can feel more repetitive than insistent, as it did on the stage.

Commercially, though, London Road is challenging: opening in the UK as a film in the NT-Live 'Event Cinema' slot on June 9 to 300 screens before moving into general release at the end of the week, this is determinedly upscale film-making which will need strong critical notices to attract audiences outside the event cinema strand. Backed by Picturehouse Entertainment, BBC Films, the BFI and National Theatre, London Road's fortunes may be boosted by the appearance of Olivia Coleman and Mad Max's Tom Hardy in a (singing) cameo.

Stylish to a fault throughout, London Road employs a leeched-out colour aesthetic to convey the reactions of the residents of London Road to the horror which played out prior to Christmas 2006. Moving the Ipswich Town football stadium to the end of this Suffolk road resulted in an unwanted influx of streetwalkers plying their trade. In late 2006, a forklifttruck driver named Steve Wright was charged with the murder of five prostitutes over the course of six weeks. …

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